SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - The relocation of a major fishing tournament could cost one East Texas community major tourism revenue due to last week’s winter storm.
Lake Palestine and the City of Flint were set to host the REDCREST 2021 Championship starting on Sunday.
After initially delaying the event, the Major League Fishing tournament was later shifted to Lake Eufala in south Alabama.
“We’ve exhausted every option available to try to remain at Lake Palestine, but with the disaster-like conditions that the area is currently facing we couldn’t, as an organization, come in and use their valuable resources – water, electricity, food, hotel rooms – and celebrate our championship event when the local community is suffering,” a news release stated.
“We are grateful for our relationship with the Villages Marina, the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Tyler and the entire region.”
The impact of this loss of revenue for the local economy is unknown at this point. Major fishing tournaments like these bring national exposure to the host community and the fishing tournament industry nets millions of dollars in revenue each year.
This week, the sudden financial windfall is welcome news for the city of Eufala.
“There’s an immediate impact because of course they bring a hundred-plus people that are staying in the hotels, and going to our restaurants and shops and things like that, buying gas,” Eufala mayor Jack Tibbs told Gray TV affiliate WTVY.
40 of the nation’s top anglers competed in qualifying rounds in Alabama on Monday and Tuesday. The remaining 20 anglers compete on Wednesday and Thursday for a grand prize of $300 thousand.
Fisherman Ott DeFoe, who is also an MLF board member, says he’s surprised by how quickly the relocation came together.
“All things considered, this was absolutely the right decision. I was very excited to fish at Lake Palestine, but with the weather conditions they have faced over the last week, it wouldn’t have been right to roll into town and try to hold a bass-fishing tournament. I look forward to when we get to fish there.”
The event at Lake Palestine was widely publicized, calling the fishery one of the region’s best “sleeper” lakes due to its “little documented tournament history.”